Do Massage Guns Work?
Last Updated On November 13, 2021
Written by Cole
“Massage guns, percussion massagers, your very own at-home masseuse…” what’s all this craze about?
In the last few years, you’ve likely seen these massage devices pop up all over your Instagram feed and become the talk of the town, in well, every town.
Are they really worth the hype, or is this all just the placebo effect and will they disappear as fast as they appeared? That’s exactly what we’re here to find out. We’ve looked into the research, spoken to professional athletes, gym owners, and personally tested them as personal trainers.
Table of Contents
What Is A Massage Gun?
Massage guns are handheld, portable devices that rapidly vibrate to massage your muscles, thus increasing blood flow to the targeted muscle, breaking up lactic acid and helping to speed up recovery. The process is very comparable to a traditional massage, except the hard, sustained, and often painful pressure is replaced with rapid vibrations.
The main appeal for a handheld percussive device is often in the convenience; with single massage gun you can massage yourself hundreds of times anytime or anywhere to get much-needed pain relief and recovery optimization. In contrast, massage therapists require scheduling, meeting up, and often cost over $100 per session.
The Science Behind Massage Guns
Despite handheld percussion massagers behind relatively new, there have been a few studies conducted on them. To name one, this study, published on the National Institute of Health analyzed massage therapy, vibrational massage, and of course a control group across 5 different avenues.
The conclusion drawn from this study indicated that “vibration therapy and massage therapy both are equally effective in prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness“.
They expanded by saying the data showed massage therapy is more effective than vibration therapy in restoring concentric strength, whereas in contrast, vibration therapy is more effective in reducing pain and LDH/lactic buildup.
One additional interesting point in the conclusion is that while using vibration therapy, it’s very important you aren’t overdoing the pressure or Hz (speeds). They found the most success within the vibration group when used under 50 Hz.
What's The Best Massage Gun?
The massage gun that’s best for you can vary depending on your needs, expectations, budget, etc. Click the button below to read our article analyzing the best handheld vibration massagers on the market…
What Do Professional Athletes Think?
Setting sponsorships aside, do professional athletes really like using handheld massage devices?
It’s a hard answer to get down to when we’re talking about famous pro athletes like Lebron James, Georges St-Pierre, or the dozens of NFL athletes that use them, as you never really know if they’re just using it in the public eye for a check behind the scenes, or if they really utilize it for recovery.
This is why we decided to get in touch with local professional athletes, the ones that are deep into their career, at the ‘make or break‘ moment, where every race or competition can launch them into the career of an athlete. They are doing everything they possibly can to optimize recovery, and quickly scrap ideas that don’t generate results, as they don’t often get sponsorships anyway. Gathering feedback from these pros felt more genuine, as none of them received a dollar for their input on this article.
What Do Personal Trainers Think?
At PhytoMethod, we’re not just fitness fanatics who love helping athletes recovery…
We also share the history of being certified personal trainers through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, as well as previously owning a gym. This gives us a widened perspective having been deep inside the fitness scene with the ability to test massage guns not just on ourselves, but also with clients and other fitness professionals.
Now that you know we’re not fluffing, let’s get into our opinion on massage guns…
Are Massage Guns Worth It?
In many ways, percussive therapy devices act as your own personal massage therapist. Now let me caution you here, I am NOT saying to go fire your massage therapist if you have one. But to be completely frank with you, I’d be surprised if you were to tell me that you had a massage therapist (or physical therapist) that wasn’t already utilizing a massage gun in your sessions.
The versatility of the attachments that comes with a massage gun allows you to pinpoint various muscle groups that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, well, at least not easily. Being able to reach a muscle, and being able to apply sustained pressure are completely different things.
The science isn’t crystal clear yet, but there is absolutely peer-reviewed evidence as well as a significant amount of empirical data supporting the claim that massage guns reduce pain, increase blood flow, decrease your recovery time, and improve performance once you are recovered.